Monday, March 4, 2013

The Seventh Station--Jesus Falls Again

"Is it possible that he who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for the sake of us all will
not grant us all things besides?"
          Romans 8.32

 Why fall after fall? Isn’t this just too much. Overkill. We pilgrims shuffling from station to station stop now at Station Seven. We look confused. Er, we mumble, we’ve been here already. Which Station was it—number three! Jesus has already fallen.

But the church in their wisdom knew what they were doing. In having Jesus stumble and fall on his face—for God’s sake—he is one with all those who have found the burden too great. Remember what he said back there months before this terrible journey: “Come all ye who are weary and heavy laden...” He is one with all of us who at one time or another will have to bump into the limits of our lives. Leonard Boff, a fine Catholic theologian has said that Jesus is in solidarity with all those who suffer frustration and defeat. He chose to take has place beside the fallen and downtrodden.

You remember the list. It was seemingly endless as is the pain and crushedness of life itself. The Samaritan...the Publican, who collaborated with the enemy...the centurion on the wrong side...the adulteress the law said should be stoned...the Syro-Phoenician woman who was a pagan...the blind man, a paralytic...the old woman suffering from an issue of blood...not to speak of all those, the book says, “forsook him and fled” as he stumbled and fell.

Ours is a strange age. We reward Lance and the Olympic runner from Africa running on his steel legs...and Whitney Houston and Penn State—number one...number one...and that Bishop and those Cardinals and that oh-so-popular priest. And then—BAM!! They all fall down. This is not to excuse sin or wrongdoing. It is a terrible reminder that it one time or another we all fall. Carson McCullers said, “It is a sad commentary on the human race that we all have to find someone to look down on.” What would we do for news otherwise.

But before we move to pick up our stones let us remember this second fall. Leonard Boff says we meet Jesus on the ground. So the painful truth of this Seventh Station tells us, Yes, we have been here before. And the book tells us:”let he that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall...” I think a better translation might be: “Let he or she that think they stand take heed when they fall...”

Years ago at the beach one evening, tipsy on wine, one of us pulled out a guitar and began to strum: “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” And suddenly we put in our names and the names of someone who had just died...and a preacher who had fell so far down...and our troubled children...and the broke, fractured marriage of one who sang...and the President we did not like and trouble-makers in our churches and on and on we sang until, toward the end we began to wipe away the tears from our eyes at the wonder of what we prayed-wished-sang: “He got the whole world in his hands...” No wonder the church left us with this Seventh Station.

(The powerful representations of the Stations of the Cross were done  by African artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya. These 14 wood-cut prints hang in St. Paul's Church in Nigeria.)

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